FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Power may be partially restored to the section of Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line that has been without electricity since Wednesday morning, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday evening during a press conference at Grand Central Terminal.
“There is work underway to restore partial energy from other points to this system, and we are hopeful that will occur sometime over the weekend, as early as Saturday,” Malloy said. Since the outage, train service in Fairfield County has been cut to about a third of regular capacity.
Three transformers will be brought in to power the downed system, said Malloy, who met with representatives from Con Edison—the company that powers the New York portion of the New Haven Line. The amount of electricity generated by the transformers, however, would be “substantially less” than what the system normally needs, he said.
As such, tests would need to be done to determine how many trains that stretch of the line could be supported with decreased power, Malloy said.
“Can they run one train? More than one? One in each direction? Those questions can only be answered in a testing period,” he said. “That’s why I’m hopeful they’ll have that connection made on a partial feed basis by Saturday, so that any testing that’s required can take place on Saturday and/or Sunday so we can speak to customers in very detailed ways about what service will be available Monday.”
Early Wednesday morning, New Haven Line service between Stamford and Grand Central was halted due to a power failure in Mount Vernon, N.Y. The outage left an approximately 8-mile stretch of the line without power, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told The Daily Voice on Thursday.
Because regular electric-powered trains are unable to travel through that section, the railroad resumed limited service using diesel-fueled trains. As of Thursday, Anders said 24 diesel trains were being used.
Malloy said the power failure corresponds with upgrades being made to the catenary system in Mount Vernon. Of the two feeder lines powering the system, one was deliberately shut down for an extended period of time to be replaced, Malloy said. The feeder that was left to power the system is the one that failed Wednesday morning.
The feeder that was being replaced was scheduled to be up and running again by Oct. 14. If so, that would be the latest date when full permanent power would be restored—which Malloy said would be unacceptable. He was informed that the work may be expedited and completed as soon as Oct. 7
"We will continue to put as much pressure on the system and those responsible to make sure that they have a quicker turn around," he said.
Malloy called the outage a “catastrophic failure” and urged Metro-North to consider providing commuters with some sort of refund.
“I believe they need to be reimbursed in some way, at sometime in respect to this disruption of service,” he said.
Before Malloy’s press conference, Anders said refunds were unlikely, as monthly rail passes are “already at a 50 percent discount.”